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Copywriting: The New Activism? How Conscious Copy Is A Force For Good

Copywriting: the New Activism? How Conscious Copy is a Force for Good

 

 

“So, um, what actually is copywriting?”

 

We copywriters have all heard it. Copywriter seems to fall somewhere between Tree Surgeon and Consultant on the scale of brain-boggler job titles.

Woman typing on macbook while copywriting on a pad

All the writing

‘Writing’ is straightforward enough.

 

‘Copy’ …not so much.

 

So What is Copywriting, Actually?

For an occupation that lives and dies on the clear use of language, ‘copy’ is a pretty misleading word. If you’re not in marketing, the chances are you only know copy to mean ‘imitate’. And copywrite, hey! That sounds just like copyright! Are they related? Well, no. Not even vaguely.

 

Therein lies the headscratch.

 

In (very) short: our job is to persuade. Hang about! We hear you cry. The title said something about activism. That sounds suspiciously like marketing!

clipboard, meeting notes read 'blah blah free lunch', no activism here

We’re more into doing the marketing right than the free lunch tbh.

 

Well, hear us out.

 

Marketing vs Activism

 

Copywriting is marketing, yes. A skilled copywriter knows how to make a sales pitch in print. But every organisation worth its salt knows it needs marketing, and that includes the good guys. If anything, ethical businesses need marketing most – to get their worthy messages heard above the din of high-stacked, cheap-sold, fast and convenient options.

 

Writing beautiful copy for conscientious companies is helping to make positive change in the world. It’s making those companies more visible to people seeking their happy solutions. It’s persuading ambivalent folk to make ethical choices. It’s giving a leg-up to the good eggs.

 

Writing copy for businesses with heart = Taking action to elicit change.

 

Activism, right there 👆

 

 

What do you reckon? Do the ladies protest too much? Are you passionate about spreading the word of values-driven organisations, too? Let’s have a conversation. You can drop your thoughts in the comments, find us on social media or ping us an email. We love a debate.

 

Moka Pot

We brew copy. It builds brands.

This Post Has 5 Comments
  1. Yes! Totally agree.
    Language is so powerful – it forms our thoughts and therefore how we express our opinions. The tone of how something is communicated can make a huge difference to how it is perceived – an extra few words to soften a statement can make it more friendly and less threatening. Or adding “don’t cha think?” to the end of a statement shows you’re open to engaging with the reader and not just preaching your values.

    And think about how language has changed over the years… Words which are acceptable now, wouldn’t have made sense 30 years ago. Words that were in political and medical literature 30 years ago are now perceived as offensive and discriminatory. This is a double edged sword, it can cause anxiety in people. How can we talk about something in the “right” way without causing offence? Maybe we shouldn’t say anything…. That’s dangerous. If people feel censored, they feel trapped. That can make people resentful and angry and that anger is often misplaced.

    However, in our working world at bemix, we are very conscious of the language we use. We believe that the person comes before any condition they might have. If we needed to define the group of people our work is set up to benefit, we would describe someone as “a person with a learning difficulty”, not “learning disabled”. And certainly not “a Downy/spastic/retard” – retard was a medical term for many years for people who needed to learn in a different way, it’s now used often as a playground insult. Spastic was used medically to describe people with conditions that meant they couldn’t always control their muscles (spasms), including conditions such as cerebral palsy. The charity Scope, used to be called The Spastics Society. Then people started using the word as a discriminatory term and insult. The Spastics Society changed their name.
    We take it further than many organisations. We don’t refer to people as “a service user” – we all use services so why would we segregate in our language and therefore our attitude? In fact, even better, let’s just call someone by their name!

    Just to use language around learning disability as an example again. A group of people that have historically been labelled or defined by a medical or genetic condition, or by
    something they find challenging (or are challenged by because of the way society is set up), and then as people who are defined by needing help (handicapped). We take their power away. They are receivers of support, unable to do, different. When we use language that positions people as worthy, valuable, equal and with power, we can start to influence people’s perception. That gives people more power.

    Language (and copywriting) is powerful. With great power comes great responsibility – surely it makes sense to use that power actively to create understanding, equality, respect, value? Not to incite hatred and segregation. And that includes not shouting someone down for using the “wrong” language. Trying to understand someone’s intention behind the words can open up a conversation and an opportunity for mutual understanding.

    I could go on for hours about this 😉

  2. Yes! Totally agree.
    Language is so powerful – it forms our thoughts and therefore how we express our opinions. The tone of how something is communicated can make a huge difference to how it is perceived – an extra few words to soften a statement can make it more friendly and less threatening. Or adding “don’t cha think?” to the end of a statement shows you’re open to engaging with the reader and not just preaching your values.

    And think about how language has changed over the years… Words which are acceptable now, wouldn’t have made sense 30 years ago. Words that were in political and medical literature 30 years ago are now perceived as offensive and discriminatory. This is a double edged sword, it can cause anxiety in people. How can we talk about something in the “right” way without causing offence? Maybe we shouldn’t say anything…. That’s dangerous. If people feel censored, they feel trapped. That can make people resentful and angry and that anger is often misplaced.

    However, in our working world at bemix, we are very conscious of the language we use. We believe that the person comes before any condition they might have. If we needed to define the group of people our work is set up to benefit, we would describe someone as “a person with a learning difficulty”, not “learning disabled”. And certainly not “a Downy/spastic/retard” – retard was a medical term for many years for people who needed to learn in a different way, it’s now used often as a playground insult. Spastic was used medically to describe people with conditions that meant they couldn’t always control their muscles (spasms), including conditions such as cerebral palsy. The charity Scope, used to be called The Spastics Society. Then people started using the word as a discriminatory term and insult. The Spastics Society changed their name.
    We take it further than many organisations. We don’t refer to people as “a service user” – we all use services so why would we segregate in our language and therefore our attitude? In fact, even better, let’s just call someone by their name!

    Just to use language around learning disability as an example again. A group of people that have historically been labelled or defined by a medical or genetic condition, or by
    something they find challenging (or are challenged by because of the way society is set up), and then as people who are defined by needing help (handicapped). We take their power away. They are receivers of support, unable to do, different. When we use language that positions people as worthy, valuable, equal and with power, we can start to influence people’s perception. That gives people more power.

    Language (and copywriting) is powerful. With great power comes great responsibility – surely it makes sense to use that power actively to create understanding, equality, respect, value? Not to incite hatred and segregation. And that includes not shouting someone down for using the “wrong” language. Trying to understand someone’s intention behind the words can open up a conversation and an opportunity for mutual understanding.

    I could go on for hours about this 😉

    1. YES, Lou! Alll about using language in positive ways and for positive things!
      We love this thoughtful comment and we love bemix for living these values. You guys are modelling a better way and we couldn’t be more stoked to be working with you. <3

  3. Won’t get much debate outta me I’m afraid – I wholeheartedly agree! The need for this kind of writing is all the more acute when the ethical business is about learning disability, confronting assumptions the outfit will be well-meaning, but flaky and amateurish. You get it – very glad we’re working with you!

    1. The pleasure (and honour) is ours. We think everyone could learn a thing or two from bemix! We certainly have.
      Keep on modelling how it can and should be done 🙂

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